United in Christ for Community
by Christina Fox
“I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me”
When my husband and I married, things changed for us. We were no longer two separate individuals but one couple. With that union, came membership into an extended family. My name changed. I learned the rhythms and ways of the Fox family, including how they exchanged gifts at Christmas and how to make Nana’s lasagna.
In a similar way, our union with Christ brings us into relationship with others in the Body of Christ.
In John 17, Jesus prayed a prayer for those who would come after the disciples. He prayed that we would be united as one, just as Christ is united to the Trinity and we are united to Christ. This concept of unity is an important doctrine and one which we often overlook in Scripture. When Jesus left the halls of heaven and came to earth as a human baby in the incarnation, he united himself to us in our humanity by taking on human flesh. He then went on to live a perfect life, obeying God in all things. He died a sacrificial death, taking the punishment for sin that we deserved. Through the gift of faith in Christ and what he did for us in his life, death, and resurrection, we are united to him. What this means is, his perfect life is now ours; God looks at us and sees Christ’s righteousness. The death he died is ours; God accepts Christ’s payment as though we paid it ourselves.
It is also our unity with Christ that creates and shapes our unity with other believers. We are united to Christ through our justification and united to one another through our adoption. Though we come to faith as an individual, once we are a believer, we immediately become part of the family of God. We are adopted as children of the Father, are co-heirs with Christ, and believers past, present, and those in the future are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
I once had the privilege of attending an adoption proceeding at the county court house. It was a beautiful and amazing thing to witness. I listened as the judge officially changed a group of sibling’s last name to my friend’s last name. The children were given all the rights and privileges of being a part of my friend’s family. They now call my friend Mom and her husband Dad. When they are hurt, they run to their parents for help. When they are hungry, they know they will be fed. Not only that, but my friend’s biological child is their sibling.
This is what happens with our adoption into the family of God. Everyone who comes to Christ by faith is adopted into God’s family and we are all siblings in the household of God. We share the same Father. Each of us who are united to Christ by faith are united to one another. This relationship goes deeper than sharing a similar DNA with our flesh and blood siblings. We share the blood of Christ and we are united together for all eternity. We will spend forever with our siblings in Christ, loving and worshipping our Savior. Pause for a moment and consider what this means. The believers with whom you worship each Sunday will sing praises beside you forever and ever.
Because we are united to Christ and to one another, whatever is going on in the life of another believer impacts us as well. Their joy becomes our joy; their sorrow becomes our sorrow. This means we ought to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). We ought to meet one another’s needs, knowing that in doing so, we are serving Christ himself (Matthew 25:40). We ought to walk together, side by side, in the journey of faith until the race is won and the world knows who Christ is and what he has done.
What a privilege to be adopted into Your family! May I fully embrace not only the joys but also the griefs of my brothers and sisters, watching for ways to walk side by side as we make our way Home.
Christina Fox writes for a number of Christian ministries and publications including Revive Our Hearts, TGC, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Ligonier Ministries. Her books include A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope Through the Psalms of Lament and Closer than a Sister: How Union with Christ Helps Friendships to Flourish.